Nov 16, 2010 Issue #33 - Fall 2010 - Interpol
Last year, Stereolab announced that the band was taking a break to focus on other projects. Over the course of two decades they released a string of albums and singles that built a sizable following as the players developed and reworked the blueprint of their keyboard-driven pop. Not Music collects unreleased tracks from the sessions for 2008's Chemical Chords, their last full-length release. The basic elements are here: Laetitia Sadier's vocals; their light, poppy keyboard/guitar mix; Andy Ramsay's light rhythmic anchor. However, Not Music is one of those albums of extras that disappointingly lays bare why these tracks were excluded from those that initially found a release.
Among some of the album's interesting approaches, "Silver Sand (Emperor Machine Mix)" employs a keyboard sound straight from mid-'70s Kraftwerk to accompany multiple Sadier vocal tracks. With its buzzing guitar, "Sun Demon" kicks off like a Stereolab/Os Mutantes dream session, though one where Mutantes' Sergio Dias sadly opted out after a brief appearance.
There's more of a light dance groove to "Two Finger Symphony," an ambling tune where the group seems to spend half the song studiously avoiding a discernable melody. "Delugeoisie" interestingly wavers between dreamy, minor-key pop and echoes of a Beach Boys summer before a tricky rhythm break enters and rides off with the rest of the song. And some songs simply seem like unfinished ideas that were still gamely considered, as with the pleasant but unfocused "Laserblast."
The good news here is that Sterolab, at this stage, is as restlessly inventive as ever, still looking at fresh ways to work within their chosen format. As a band whose unreleased material has sometimes been as prized as their album tracks, it's a nice thought that a break might lead to a renewed Stereolab once again releasing 7-inch jewels. (www.myspace.com/stereolab)
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10